WASHINGTON, D.C. (WWNY) - As a more infectious strain increases the coronavirus’ deadly threat, federal leaders are sticking to their formula for distributing vaccines in short supply.
“Keep it simple, it’s transparent,” said Sec. Alex Azar of the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, ”Each week, more and more doses of product get manufactured, more get quality controlled and released, so it’s going to be an on-going thing every week.”
States receive doses based on their populations over the age of 18 – but almost immediately governors complained shipments fell short of presidential promises.
Dr. Anthony Fauci says vaccination numbers won’t be as high as hoped by the end of the year.
“We are below where we want to be,” said Fauci.
The federal government’s priority list starts with front-line health care workers and those 75 and older before broadly spelling out who should follow.
But, it’s up to states and hospitals to develop their own, more detailed vaccination rules.
“Those at the highest risk of being made sick if they get infected should be at the front of the line,” said Bioethicist Dr. Jeffrey Kahn of Johns Hopkins University.
Dr. Kahn says thus far, vaccination plans prioritize saving lives over stopping the spread.
At the state level, there’s debate over where teachers, grocery workers, and other essential employees should stand.
If Americans get the sense the privileged are cutting the line, Kahn says faith in the system will be lost.
“So, there’s been a lot of work to articulate who should go first and why,” said Kahn.
But iffy choices came to light almost immediately. Some members of Congress question their own priority status.
“I was a bit taken aback,” said Rep. Greg Murphy, Republican representative from North Carolina.
Khan says top leaders belong in the first wave, but it’s less clear where their staff should fall.
Congress still hasn’t devised a plan for covering them.